UK renewables capacity overtakes fossil fuels for first time

The total renewable capacity on the grid has tripled over the last five years, standing at 42GW

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Britain has reached a major green milestone as the total capacity available from renewable sources has overtaken fossil fuels for the first time.

That’s according to a new report, which reveals the total renewable capacity on the grid has tripled over the last five years, standing at 42GW.

It has overtaken the 40.6GW of capacity available from fossil fuels as a third of the generating capacity has retired since 2013.

The report adds wind farms provide the biggest share of renewable capacity on the system, with more than 20GW available, followed by solar with more than 13GW of capacity and biomass providing 3.2GW.

The UK has taken the top spot with the growth in offshore wind power, currently at 45% of global capacity – the Galloper, Rampion, Race Bank and Walney 3 projects have all come online.

There are also a million rooftop solar power systems in operation across the country.

The report by Imperial College London for Drax also identifies Brexit as being a “major factor” in power prices reaching a 10-year high.

It states an 18% increase in power costs was caused by the currency devaluation associated with the 2016 referendum result, however, balancing the power system also added 6% to wholesale prices “as the day-to-day costs of running the transmission system came in at £3.8m per day during the third quarter of 2018”.

Dr Iain Staffell from Imperial College London said: “The cost of balancing the system has doubled in the last four years. The amount of flexible generation on the system is a key driver. Balancing costs rise when the output from flexible generators such as gas, coal, biomass and hydro falls below 10GW.

“Having a ‘brittle’ power system with limited flexibility will be more expensive to control. More flexible generation, storage and demand side response will be critical in minimising system costs in the future.”